This is probably one of the biggest mistakes people make when starting any design project. They assume they know their audience, so they make assumptions. Sometimes they’re good assumptions. More often, they’re not. The reasons for skipping audience research are often logical and very well meaning. Here are a few of the ones we hear most often:
I’m part of the target audience…
After all that’s why you had the idea, right? Well, certainly your inside scoop is invaluable, but the reality is your only one part of the audience. Almost all groups are made up of some form of diversity…including diversity of thought, style, preference, ideas, approaches, and personality (among many others). However, research itself isn’t enough. In fact, diversity implies that your audience research must be diverse as well. Diversity comes in many forms. Here are just a few things to consider when selecting your research group:
- Experience level
- Technical ability
- Context (when/where/how they will use your design)
Certainly, not all of these will matter for every project, but it’s worth considering for each design. The ideal is to select a research group that reflects most closely the audience for your design.
I’ve worked with this group for years…
You already know what they need. You work with them all day, every day. And it’s true, that experience is invaluable. However, sometimes that experience also means you’re too close to them and may miss key design elements. Even if you do know your audience that well, it’s good to take a few minutes to refresh your memory about their wants and needs, and reflect how those may impact your design.
You are not your audience. So, next time you start a project, take the time to get to know your audience, and make sure your research includes a diverse group that reflects your target audience. That insight will pay off repeatedly throughout the design process.